As we slowly and carefully emerge from the surreal existence of social distancing, if you are able, taking a ‘Sensing Walk,’ or merely getting outside however you can, can be a soothing step to re-entry. Taking a sensing walk can be fun, soothing, silly, or surprising. Or all of the above.
Imagine three dimensions of your awareness: seeing, hearing and moving. Consider these senses within the context of experiencing freedom: freedom to move, and freedom to explore. The freedom to move allows people to choose how and when to engage with the natural world. It is a privilege that many do not have easy access to.
Exploratory freedom is an opportunity to observe, and witness, maybe even starting inside the house, and then around the neighborhood. We acknowledge this exercise is called a sensing walk, but we invite everyone to participate in getting outside, or opening and sitting by a window, in whatever and however a safe and supported way they can!
Heading Out: The Vision Walk
Ideally start your walk outside in the early morning or at the evening's the "Golden hour," when the light is warm and rich. Begin by walking with your eyes straight ahead, and noticing what you see with only a tunnel vision. Then look down, walk and then look up. Then walk looking from side to side, and even up at the sky... Now shift into exploratory freedom: pretend you are seeing things for the very first time, and allow yourself to feel a sense of wonder, awe. Allow Attached is the link to the site for people who are visually impaired etc. - I am not sure if we want to put that in or just leave the sentences I wrote above it that acknowledge it is a privilege. your eyes and head to rotate gently side to side in 180 degrees, and then up and down. What do you see differently when you shift to this learning mode?
Heading Back: The Hearing Walk
Allow yourself now to focus on what you hear, taking in the sounds around you from nature (wind, birds, dogs barking), people talking, cars driving by and music playing. Notice what you are taking in now, that you may have previously blocked out. Notice sounds that are pleasant and those that you react to with irritability. Notice if there are sounds that are always there that you never noticed, such as running water, or the sound of gravel under your feet as you step.
Try even to switch to smelling and maybe touch. Whatever sense you would like to focus on, the exercise is to be mindfully present and commune with your senses, one at a time. Nature can enliven you, as you feel the sun’s warmth, or gain a different sense of space, light, and air movement. Sensing walks provide valuable opportunities to counter feelings of isolation and experience a sense of connection. The soothing sensations of a breeze; the quiet presence of trees; the joy of birds, can offer a gentle connection with the surroundings, rather than more complicated human encounters. It can also be a valuable opportunity to experience feelings of awe and wonder when you realize all that surrounds you right within walking distance.